Want to fatten a church for slaughter? The steps are below.
This is a true story.
1. Launch a “church for people who don’t like the church” with a dynamic leader with big ideas and self-help teaching.
2. Care less about biblical depth, discipleship, and leadership character than inspirational messages, excitement, and creativity. Make sure the success is built around the leader’s “brand” so that he and the church are largely synonymous.
3. See the place attract large crowds.
4. See the success go to the leader’s head. Make excuses and accommodations as his short temper, control issues, and lack of accountability begin to take their toll. Accept the loss of numerous quality leaders as the collateral damage necessary to win the attendance war in your city’s ministry marketplace.
5. Continue staking everything on a “killer weekend experience” to the expense of discipleship, community, and mission. Marginalize (or get rid of) anyone who does not get the vision.
6. Watch the leader eventually crash and burn.
7. As the church hemorrhages attendees who were there for “the brand,” fail to learn your lesson and hire a similarly dynamic leader to replace the one who’s fallen. (Make sure he’s at least nice.)
8. Make sure only yes-men ascend to leadership as the new leader tries to rebuild a better version of what crashed the first time.
9. Watch as the new leader drifts further and further away from biblical teaching and more into the world of quasi-spiritual wanderings. Make sure anyone who sees red flags in occasional New Age-type teaching and embrace of heterodox spiritualities can’t do anything about it. When those people leave, don’t care.
10. Watch as liberal theology takes root and slowly drives more and more people out the door. As money dwindles, and staff along with it, take no steps to correct course. Go “all in.”
11. Follow the “new kind of Christianity” all the way to barely-Christianity, and close the doors on what used to be a thriving megachurch.
12. Wonder what went wrong.
This isn’t the only way to kill a church. Some churches dwindle and die through no fault of the leaders. But if you want to kill a church, this is a time-tested way to do it.